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Tampa Bay Rays: Tyler Brashears Fits Undervalued Label in Round 14

By Robbie Knopf

Over the years, the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten steals in the MLB Draft with several types of undervalued players. We can talk about high school players from rarely scouted areas (Matt Moore), athletic junior college players who lack refined skills on the baseball diamond (Desmond Jennings and Kevin Kiermaier), and even college starting pitchers with unconventional deliveries (Dylan Floro). We have already dropped something of a Floro comp on Reece Karalus, but it makes sense that the Rays would draft two such players and Tyler Brashears fits the archetype even better.

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Brashears, a 6’2″, 170 right-hander, delivered a tremendous year in his lone season at the University of Hawaii, going 8-5 with a 1.86 ERA in 15 starts and 101.2 innings pitched. His connections with Floro are manifold. Floro stands at 6’2″, 175, was a 13th round pick in 2012 (just ahead of Brashear’s 14th round slot this year), and he also delivered a big junior season in the Big West Conference. In addition, the two pitchers delivered similar rate statistics. Brashears had a 6.0 K/9, a 1.7 BB/9, and a 0.2 HR/9 while Floro was at 5.5, 1.0, and 0.2 at Cal State Fullerton in 2012. The statistics only go so far, though–the stuff is where things get more interesting.

Floro and Brashears both have deceptive throwing motions where they bring their throwing arm behind their back just before delivering the baseball. Despite those mechanics, they still do a nice job commanding their pitches. If that similarity wasn’t remarkable enough, they both pitch primarily off sinking fastballs, although Floro stays in the 88-91 MPH range while Brashears often throws in the same range but can hit 93 MPH on occasion. Each of them also shows promise with a breaking ball and a changeup but failed to refine them enough to miss bats even in college.

Floro has struck out many hitters, but he has also never walked more than 1.4 batters per 9 in any minor league season. He has never blown away hitters, but he has managed to put up numbers similar to what he did in his last year in college in each of his three full seasons as a professional (after dominating in relief at Short Season-A). We will see how he turns out as a major leaguer, but it is remarkable that Floro has not only remained a starting pitcher up until now, but also emerged as a legitimate rotation option for the Rays.

Tyler Brashears has plus command, but he doesn’t quite have Floro’s immaculate ability to throw strikes at the bottom of the zone time after time. If he is going to follow Floro’s path, he will need to turn either his curveball or his changeup into a swing-and-miss pitch and the other offering into a reliable third option. However, if the injury and durability concerns that stem from Brashears’ slender frame and delivery are overblown like they were with Floro, he could become a back-of-the-rotation starter or an effective groundballing reliever. You can’t do much better than that at this point in the draft.

Click this link to read our other 2015 Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft profiles.

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